According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.9 million recordable non-fatal injuries and illnesses in Private sector industry in the USA in 2016. In addition to their social costs, workplace injuries and illnesses have a major impact on an employer’s bottom line. According to The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), it has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone.
To ensure the safety of your employees and reduce the number of injuries, it is imperative that you know how to identify the health and safety hazards in your workplace.
Each workplace will have different safety hazards depending on industry, location and specific function of the facility, however every business will benefit by following the tips that have been outlined below.
1) Create a Safety Checklist
Developing a comprehensive safety checklist is an important first step in creating a safer workplace and serves as a solid foundation in identifying and recording potential hazards. Before you create your checklist it is important to research the health and safety regulations that apply to your state and then organize the regulations that pertain to your workplace. Once this is complete work to create an easy to read template that can be easily accessed by employees and managers for reference.
2) Check for Tripping Hazards
One of the most common causes of workplace injuries is trips and falls. These types of injuries are expensive and often avoidable. Inspect your business room by room for slipping and tripping hazards such as boxes or debris and signs of leaks. Once these have been identified remove the hazard or in the case of the leak put up cones or other signage to warn employees of the danger. Taking immediate action will reduce the chance of injury and ensure employee safety.
3) Take a Look at Your Lighting
Improper lighting can cause numerous problems for employees across many areas of your facility. For workers in the office area using computers, improper lighting can cause eyestrain resulting in diminished vision, headaches and other ailments. Proper lighting in stairwells is necessary to avoid accidents and to maintain compliance. You should also look outside your facility and make sure employees and visitors have the proper lighting while walking from the facility to your parking area.
4) Inspect the Quality of Your Air
Poor air quality in the workplace can cause problems such as headaches, fatigue and in severe cases pneumonia and other respiratory ailments. Common causes of poor indoor air quality include lack of ventilation, dampness and moisture, contaminated air and ongoing construction. It is important to check measurements of temperature, humidity and air flow and conduct a walk through to identify odors, water damage or other leaks. Additionally, have your heating and air systems regularly checked to make sure they are working properly. If there are areas which look concerning a radon or asbestos test may be necessary.
5) Keep Your Workplace Sanitary
An unclean workplace can be a significant health and safety hazard. In fact, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year more than 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis are caused by Norovirus. Norovirus spreads quickly mainly by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with Norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth. Keep your workplace sanitary and make sure that all restrooms are cleaned at least once a day. Require employees to wash their hands after using the restroom and clean up after themselves in the lunchrooms and cafeteria.
While each facility has it’s own unique set of hazards, the tips above provide a good starting point to help identify some of the more common problems in your facility. This provides a baseline, but a good follow up is to have a professional conduct a site assessment of your facility to identify additional hazards you may have missed.
“Workplace Safety: 5 Tips to Identify Hazards”
Posted by Julie Copeland
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